Maxfield Parrish art -
Maxfield Parrish (1870–1966), “The Lantern Bearers,” 1908, oil on canvas, 40 x 32 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2006.71. Photography by Dwight Primiano

This summer, the Norman Rockwell Museum presents the first comprehensive exhibition to look at the work of master illustrators Maxfield Parrish, N. C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell in relation to the history of Western art. With more than 60 works by 25 American and European painters, along with more than 300 digital representations of some 50 other artists, “Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell, and the Narrative Tradition” reveals the lineage connecting American illustration to some 500 years of European painting through the long line of teachers who have passed along their wisdom, knowledge, and techniques to generations of creators.

Norman Rockwell art -
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978), “Girl at Mirror,” 1954, oil on canvas, 31.5 x 29.5 in., Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1954, Norman Rockwell Museum Collection. ©SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, Indiana

Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, the exhibition is curated by Dennis Nolan, an award-winning artist and professor of illustration at Hartford Art School, University of Hartford.

Nolan states, “Telling stories in pictures — whether the vehicle is an altarpiece, a ceiling fresco, a canvas, or an illustrated book — transcends the limits of written and spoken language and is the most powerful way to express and comment on our shared experiences and multifaceted lives. The artists represented in this exhibition told their stories with clarity and an expertise that had been nurtured and maintained through the centuries by the artist/teachers, the keepers of the flame.”

NC Wyeth art -
N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945), “In the Crystal Depths,” 1906, oil on canvas, 38 x 26 in., Illustration for N. C. Wyeth, “The Indian in His Solitude,” The Outing Magazine, vol. L, no. 3, June 1907. Brandywine River Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 1981.

Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt adds, “Every artist-teacher passes on to their pupils a certain way of seeing and drawing the world, creating a distinctive lineage. This groundbreaking exhibition traces the traditions of European painting that crossed the ocean to tutor America’s most famous illustrators, linking centuries past with the present while unveiling the alchemy of artists and their teachers. Together, the works in ‘Keepers of the Flame’ provide a unique and important view of a particular line of picture-making, demonstrating the importance of the connections of American illustrators to the Western tradition.”

Dennis Nolan art -
Dennis Nolan, “Narrative Painting: The 14th Century to the 20th Century,” 2018, colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 15 x 24 in., Illustration for the Norman Rockwell Museum exhibition “Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition.” Collection of the artist.
Jean Leon Gerome art -
Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904), “Michelangelo Being Shown the Belvedere Torso,” 1849, oil on canvas, 20.25 x 14.75 in., Dahesh Museum of Art, New York. 1999.8
Marc Charles Gleyre art -
Marc Charles Gleyre (Swiss/French, 1806–1874), “The Bath,” 1868, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 25 in., Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia. Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 71.2069.

“Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell, and the Narrative Tradition” is on view June 9 through October 28, 2018. For more information, please visit

Sign up to receive Fine Art Today, the weekly e-newsletter from
Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here